Assumed gender differences in clinical picture of fibromyalgia can’t be supported: Large German study

Abstract Title:

Demographic and clinical features of patients with fibromyalgia syndrome of different settings: A gender comparison – Source: Gender Medicine, Apr 2011

By Winfried Hauser, MD, et al.

Background: Well-established gender differences in the clinical picture of fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) have been suggested.

However, studies on gender differences in demographic and clinical features of FMS have contradictory results. Their significance is limited by the small number of patients included and selection bias of single settings.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to compare demographic characteristics (age, family status) and clinical variables (duration of chronic pain and FMS diagnosis, tender point count, number of pain sites, and somatic and depressive symptoms) of male and female patients in different settings (general population, FMS self-help organization, and different clinical settings).

Methods: FMS was diagnosed according to survey criteria in the general population and in the self-help organization setting and by 1990 criteria of the American College of Rheumatology in the clinical settings.

Tender point examination was performed according to the manual tender point survey protocol in clinical settings. Somatic and depressive symptoms were assessed by validated questionnaires.

Results: A total of 1,023 patients (885 female, 138 male) were included in the analysis.

• Compared with male participants, female participants reported a longer duration of chronic widespread pain (P = 0.009) and time since FMS diagnosis (P = 0.05), and they had a higher tender point count (P = 0.04).

• There were no gender differences in age, family status, number of pain sites, or somatic and depressive symptoms.

Conclusions: We found no relevant gender differences in the clinical picture of FMS.

The assumption of well-established gender differences in the clinical picture of FMS could not be supported.

Source: Gender Medicine, Apr 2011:116-25. PMID: 21536230, by Häuser W, Kühn-Becker H, von Wilmoswky H, Settan M, Brähler E, Petzke F. Department of Internal Medicine I (Gastroenterology, Hepatology, Endocrinology, Infectious Diseases and Psychosomatic Medicine), Klinikum Saarbrücken, Saarbrücken; Department of Psychosomatic Medicine, Technische Universität München, München; Pain Medicine Practice, Zweibrücken, Germany. []

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